By the way: Kirron Kher’s fault? She is the next-door aunty
It appears that Kirron Kher is just another person of her times, as confused as your next-door aunty about how to deal/live/fight with patriarchy.columns Updated: Dec 03, 2017 10:21 IST
She’s a great actor. Any cinema-goer would know. She’s a great follower. Our Prime Minister would know. She is good at making headlines. She would know.
And she’s given to faux pas, mainly because of the sheer amount of talking she does once you place a camera or microphone in front of her. She also happens to be a member of the Lok Sabha from Chandigarh.
In the latest, Kirron Kher has faced a barrage of criticism for purportedly finding fault with a 21-year-old woman’s decision to board the auto-rickshaw whose driver and two other occupants gangraped her last month. “Bachi ki samajhdaari ko bhi main thoda sa kehna chahti hun… saari bachiyon ko... ki already jab koi teen aadmi baithe hue hain uske andar… to aapko usme bethna nahi chahiye tha… (I also want to talk about the girl’s alertness... to all girls... When already there were three men sitting inside that auto, you should not have boarded it). I am saying this to protect the girls, “she said at a press conference when asked to comment on the case.”
By this time, anyone interested in news knows the case. Nevertheless, here’s a recount: The woman had taken the auto to go back to her PG house in Mohali after her first class of a stenography course in Sector 37. The three men raped her and dumped her in Sector 53, where she was spotted by passersby who informed the police. All three men have since been arrested.
Back to Kher.
Despite all her acting chops, she is certainly not the best at articulating herself in a day and age when sentences do not necessarily get read in relation to other sentences spoken before and after.
After she was done allegedly blaming the victim, she did not stop talking. She went on to cite from experience. “Whenever we took a taxi in Mumbai, we used to let someone know the taxi number… I feel that in these times, we also have to be more careful about these things.”
How horrible, no? Classic victim-blaming! Hence, the headlines, the outrage, the viral stories, the fancy videos and other ‘content’ and jingbang that is part of such bandwagons. What further sealed the deal for her is that she was elected riding a wave in favour of a man who belongs to one of the most regressive politico-cultural organisations this side of the world.
Yet, something got lost in the din. Take note, again: She was not done talking.
She also said this: “People should educate their boys so as to prevent such crimes.... Insaan vehshi banta ja raha hai (Mankind is turning monstrous)… Even in the family, when the father doesn’t respect the mother, it creates an impact on the kids.”
Wait, did she just speak against misogyny, that too its routine version that goes on unabated inside the four walls of our homes?
This is confusing. Who is she?
Is she a regressive mummy-type character, the kind who scolds her own daughter for ‘mingling too much with boys’ if she is groped at the local fair? Or, is she saying that misogyny must be nipped in the bud, tackled at home before anywhere else?
Or, maybe, she is just another creature of her times, as confused as your next-door aunty about how to deal/live/fight with patriarchy. She has in the past too made statements that have confused those who want to put her in a box – either regressive, or liberal. She falls somewhere in between, like a lot of us.
That, in no way, takes away from the fact that she made a statement that she could have articulated much better. What if she had said it like it is? That we live in a horrible society where public transport is not safe for women just because it’s post-dusk and there are men inside the auto.
Sadly, she did not say that. She spoke like a neighbourhood aunty who is stuck between two ages, while you and I were hoping for a more dignified articulation against an age-old problem that she did actually acknowledge.
But, well, a measured, idealistic lecture against misogyny by a professional liar-cum-politician would’ve made for a boring story anyway. She is better than that.
(The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Views expressed are personal